With a strange name that means place of gold, Gauteng (pronounced how-teng with a gutteral back of the throat clearing for the 'g') is the smallest of the nine provinces, yet contributes 37% to the country's economy. [cont.]
The Geepee licence plates, synonymous throughout the country with 'bad' (aggressive) driving, have come to exemplify the bustle, buzz and electric vibe of the hugely cosmopolitan city of Johannesburg, the third-largest city on the continent. Known too as Jozi and Jo'burg it has an urban sprawl similar to that of Los Angeles, covering 1 645 square kilometres.
From the mine dumps of southern Johannesburg to the glittering skyscrapers of Sandton in the north, there is an effervescence to the city that throngs with various cultures, ethnic groups and lifestyles; poor alongside rich.
Its night life pumps, and its daily grind begins at 8am and seldom winds down before 7pm along heavily oversubscribed roads and highways. Despite this, it is also known as the largest manmade urban forest in the world, with well over six million trees, and there are several green corridors through the city.
Next to it, the Jacaranda laden (during October and November) city of Pretoria is positively laidback. Fifty odd kilometres from Johannesburg along a highway that no longer bridges the divide, for the sprawl now follows alongside, it is one of three administrative capitals and vastly different from its vibey sister down the road.
Other than the two major cities, Gauteng's other areas have become, by definition, the playground for those who work long hours. Magaliesberg and Hartbeespoort Dam, Dinokeng and northern and southern Gauteng serve as weekend breaks, holiday escapes and provide downtime for those in the rat race.
Gauteng does accommodation with aplomb. Luxurious hotels, five star establishments and upmarket country resorts, bed and breakfasts, self-catering venues, guest houses, self-indulgent retreats and neat, comfortable cottages or campsites – there is something for everyone.
Johannesburg through Midrand, Randburg, Sandton, the East and West Rands, Cradle of Humankind, southern and northern Gauteng, Magaliesberg, Pretoria and Dinokeng – there are venues for all budgets. [close]